Monday, February 25, 2008

Review – Death Wish 2

When are these cheap street punks going to learn to stop screwing with Charles Bronson? All the man wants to do is buy some ice cream for his mentally ill daughter, and they’ve gotta go and break into his house, rape and kill his housekeeper, and kidnap his kid. Needless to say, after she dies trying to escape, that’s pretty much all she wrote for the criminals. The thing that surprised me the most about the movie is just how perfunctory our hero is about doing in the bad guys. He doesn’t linger over the killings. He doesn’t torture them, not even when torture might lead him to the next miscreant in the parade of slaughter. He just guns them down and moves on, indignities restricted to a stiffly-delivered quip or two. Frankly, his businesslike attitude takes some of the fun out of it. Mildly amusing

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Review – The Butterfly Effect

I had a solid block of hate going for this movie until the last five minutes. For the most part this is an Ashton-Kutcher-intensive parade of violence inflicted on helpless children and animals. And on top of that, the story is the tried-and-tiresome canard of the guy who tries to go back in time to make things better only to screw them up even worse. Frankly, I could have done without the whole mess. But then at the very end it turns into a hilarious parody that Frank Capra has had coming for decades. I’m not sure that’s what was intended, but the result is solid nonetheless. Overall this isn’t worth looking at, but if you do sit through it you’ll have to sit through it all before it rewards your attention. See if desperate

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Review – Death Wish 5: The Face of Death

It’s a good thing the cross-dressing psycho hit man decides to carve up the love interest’s face instead of her posterior; I can only imagine the marketing nightmares associated with a movie sub-titled “The Ass of Death.” Still, in many ways such a sobriquet would have been more fitting. For starters, this is the ass-end of the Death Wish series, released two decades after the first one hit theaters. But even more, the whole thing has a distinctly fecal odor about it. Though as of this writing I’ve never seen any of the other movies in the set, it isn’t hard to recognize the presence of a stiff, formulaic approach to plot and character. The first half of the production builds hatred for the bad guys, and then Charles Bronson steps in and spends the back half inflicting fanatical vengeance on them. After 20 years they seem to have run out of clever villain-offing techniques, leaving our hero with self-parodying modi operandi such as a poisoned pastry and an exploding, remote-control soccer ball. In the end the final, prevailing justice is the absence of a Death Wish 6. Mildly amusing

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Review – The Bunker (2001)

I just don’t get it. War movies rock. Horror movies rock. But for some bizarre reasons the two combined seem to cancel each other out. To be fair, this isn’t a bad movie. Indeed, among “weird war” movies this one stands out as one of the better examples of the sub-genre. German soldiers fleeing the Allied assault in late 1944 take refuge in an anti-tank bunker. It’s their bad luck that the place is connected to a series of tunnels that lead to some sinister stuff. It’s a fastball wind-up, but it turns out to be a slow-moving knuckleball of a pitch. If ever there was a time to not go the strictly-psychological route to chills, this was the moment. The script is good. The cast is good. The production values are good, especially for a low-budget picture. It just never quite manages to pan out. Mildly amusing

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Review – The Condemned

Here we have The Running Man updated for the 21st century. Which is to say that it’s a killer game show in which the contestants have to murder each other in order to survive. Only now it’s being done on a remote tropical island (a la Survivor) and netcast rather than broadcast. The explosions are bigger. The costumes are less dorky. Still, it’s the same mix of macho action movie, former professional wrestlers and random moralizing about video violence from a violent video. Mildly amusing